On the O’Reilly Factor (hosted by Laura Ingram) on Thursday evening, July 1st 2010, Karl Rove and Laura were discussing the immigration issue and Arizona’s SB 1070. In support of some point or another, Mr. Rove told an anecdotal story about an apple grower in Washington State. He mentioned that the grower required 500 seasonal pickers for several weeks of work. According to Mr. Rove, the grower was paying $25 per hour and would benefit from a guest worker program instead of having to hire illegal immigrants.

Assuming there is any credence to Mr. Rove’s story and that his quoted wage is correct, and given that there are millions of Americans unemployed (9.5% by the latest numbers, with untold more uncounted after having given up the search) why does this grower require illegals or guest workers to pick his apples?

$25 per hour is a very good wage in almost any part of the nation, and picking apples is decent, honest work. If there is a demand for 500 workers at $25 per hour, why aren’t some of these millions of unemployed Americans lining up at the grower’s gate for a job? Anyone who has seen “The Grapes of Wrath” saw a dramatized depiction of unemployed depression-era “Okies” trekking across the nation for work in California, and then moving from town to town on mere rumors of work being available.

Could it be that seemingly unending extension of unemployment benefits has sapped Americans of any sense of urgency to find employment? Is it possible that politicians in Washington D.C. actually do have a point when they discuss “jobs American’s won’t do”?  Are we so soft as a nation that we consider it our birthright to have climate controlled work areas and a padded swivel chair? Are we so spoiled that we would turn down honest labor because it’s beneath our dignity?

Even if an out of work manager would normally make more money within his profession than he would picking apples, why would he not take what work he could until he could be a manager again? Which applicant would a future employer look more favorably upon, a manager who searched for work while on unemployment for 99 weeks, or a man who went out into the fields and worked until he could go back to his profession, or better yet, worked hard and became the manager at the orchard?

As children, many of us pushed lawnmowers, painted sheds, chopped wood, cleaned chicken coops and maybe even picked crops for cash in order to earn our first car or save for school. Have we lost our appetite for the hard work that built this nation and would at least allow us to honor our debts? Most of our founding generation were farmers and craftsmen who plied trades and worked the fields with their own hands. Are we superior?

Americans of yesteryear would have followed the work; they would have had to. The real threat of hunger and homelessness kept them moving, searching, and working. What is the worst that can happen to the unemployed now? You can walk away from your mortgage, declare bankruptcy and then wait for the check bringing more government benefits.  There is no incentive for Americans to pack up their car and follow work in the fields. Even those among us who consider ourselves conservative would have likely failed to head to the apple farm, choosing to wait for another job featuring a water cooler to lean upon and a computer to stare at.

Largess from Uncle Sam removes the adversity and the urgency that might prompt Americans to accept hard, productive work which they are not accustomed to, but are certainly capable of. That work that is now going to non-citizens and providing our masters in Washington with an excuse to push “comprehensive immigration reform.” According to the Department of Labor, the unemployment rate in Washington State was 8.7% in April 2010. Would a grower really take the risk of hiring illegals to pick apples if some of his fellow Washingtonians had appeared at his gate with boots and gloves and backs eager for work?